In an unprecedented twist of events, it seems like this humble soul will have to officially ORD. No, I’m not being disgraced from the Army, nor am I one of the rare, successful cases of early discharge. I predictably set myself up to sign on in the Army, and yet here I am, sitting at a quaint little café at Holland Ave, penning down what’s left of my national service and what’s to become of my great escapade.
In a short stint of 2 years in the service – which many, past and present, have undergone – I’ve finally come to a bittersweet conclusion. Forging true heartfelt and indelible friendships over the many courses that I braved through, and the unexpected enemies that I’ve made (which I probably wouldn’t have to face), all these are but the little takeaways that one like myself could possibly achieve through my service. I’ve nonetheless grown to appreciate like-minded individuals and empathise more with those that just doesn’t seem like “my cup of tea”.
Needless to say, I’ve certainly been through my own fair share of ‘scorch trials’ and hard lessons – some from my own incompetence and others from bad leadership atop. I do not dare make pitiful assumptions about what I’m about to speak, unabashedly if I may. I’ve seen great leaders in my time in the Army – and by great, I do not mean people with well-decorated embellishments or noteworthy credentials to their name. What matters most, beyond the artistic accolades that are tragically tied to your résumé, is the quality of the human heart – the very same heart we call weak and emotional, sometimes fragile. With the right methods and approach, great leadership can create an indelible impression that can impact one for life. And I’ve had the pleasant experience to be under the leadership of this great man, one whom everyone calls Angry Gary.
In every good man’s tale (though I do not own the privilege of being called one), there is a villain, hellbent to disrupt the cosmos of your very innocuous, yet heroic existence. For the mere purpose of not creating unnecessary trouble for myself and mindless gossip, I shall not name her. Disregarding her mannerism and speech, which is totally and completely ridiculous, she does not have the developed quality and character of a leader – and coming from the organisation in which I served, the Leaders were the top 10% of the entire system. And I always thought (and once truly believed) that we were chosen based off some genius algorithm that marks out the inherent quality that set us apart from the bourgeois. And with that, comes a chance to prove ourselves in leading our men. “Commanders,” they called us. But surely, one’s got to have the moral authority to live up to your rank, your insignia, your creed. Hamartia. That’s you. My encounter with her has taught me a few lessons, mostly through anger marked by indignation. And unfortunately, by choice or coincidence, our paths had crossed, in a violent turbulence, and needless to say, I hope she realises her follies and change.
“I lead my men by example,” so the creed rings, purposeful and righteous. I reflect upon my life in retrospect, criticising every decision, questioning every motive. Thankfully, without bias or double-standards, I’ve touched my heart with impartiality and have lived up to it. And surely, it is not because I was an Officer, nor was I a self-righteous, pompous ass that believed in the glory of the organisation. It was simply because I did my job, and lived up to my own expectations of it – though, these expectations might have faded through the passage of time. While I miraculously managed to achieve a small, yet important victory in this aspect (a moral victory, some will call it), I do not dare give myself the courtesy of being fulfilled. I remained mediocre, a basic worker bee, a cookie-cutter piece of work. The end is the end, and there’s hardly any purpose in predictable self-debate.
To summarise and simplify all that has been, the troubling times and the inconceivable ordeals that I just inadvertently happen to stumble across, I’ve learned many valuable lessons, by fire and fun. I’ve ironically understood the meaning of leadership being under the wing of someone who’s methodology and influence falls between the cracks. Despair and disappointment, emotions that I recognise all too easily, wrought my already soulless life in ruthless regimentation and strict discipline. Incessantly enveloped in dilemma and agonizing over lost friendships and relationships alike, I’ve learned how to gradually place my trust into the hands of the world’s author, my Lord. Alas, the end is here – though in the larger scheme of things, this is only but the beginning.
To Lead and take ownership of my life. To Excel in all that we do, by opportunity or by luck. To Overcome, a test of reliance in time to come.